SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - We have all seen or heard about the headaches that happen when traveling over the Back River Bridge, especially if a wreck happens on that two lane stretch of roadway. Now, the Department of Transportation is working to replace it with a safer alternative.
More than 19,000 drivers commute over the bridge each and every day. It has been the site for many accidents and back ups. With no emergency lanes, the DOT is now working to replace what drivers call a dangerous bridge.
"I have been driving trucks for seven years. When you get in the two lane where the bridge goes across the water, right at the end of the Talmadge, it does get tricky there," said David Scott.
The Georgia Department of Transportation and South Carolina Department of Transportation are working together to construct the new U.S. 17 bridge, which will be located next to the existing one. Georgia will cover 90 percent of the project, which is still awaiting a salt marsh credit permit before construction can begin. The project is scheduled to begin the bidding process in March of 2013. The Georgia DOT says the improvements are needed due to the amount of traffic and incidents seen on that bridge.
"There are some issues with the width of the lanes and not having much room for passing, that type of thing," said Georgia Department of Transportation Deputy Press Secretary Jill Goldburg. "By building a new bridge next to it in the interim, we wont close the existing bridge, that will allow it to be widened some and add deceleration lanes and some bike and walking lanes on the bridge."
Drivers say it is a much needed improvement to a bridge some hold their breath while crossing.
"It is kind of nerve-racking when you got a big truck coming at you and the bridge does seem to shake a lot," said Eddie Martin "I have had a lot of people swerve into my lane talking on the phone. I need to do work over there but I don't want to get hurt."
The bridge currently has no emergency lane or shoulder for cars to swerve in the case of an accident. Just last month, the bridge was closed for several hours due a fiery crash involving a tractor trailer that happened during rush hour.
"It is a little dangerous because there is no where to go when it's time to veer off. When they get ready to expand, that will be a great thing," said Edward Flannings.
The new Back River Bridge will cost nearly $15 million and will take about three years to construct.